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The Little Review

little review magazine coverIt is certain that Gurdjieff's ideas about the difference between objective and subjective art - the one is conscious, the other not - began to penetrate and slowly change the way Jane [Jane Heap] perceived the art the Little Review was publishing. Suddenly, though the impressions had gathered and been digested over a long period, she began to see art from Gurdjieff's point of view. No doubt her work helping Orage with the translation of Gurdjieff's All and Everything, itself a work of objective art, was of immeasurable value. Seeing the vast and irreconcilable difference between objective and subjective art, her dream world in which the Little Review was the centerpiece collapsed. She began to live with the dawning recognition of the magazine's utter irrelevance.


The last issue of the Little Review was most noted for Jane's farewell editorial "Lost: A Renaissance." The Little Review, she wrote, had been a part of the revolution in the arts begun before the First World War. Unlike magazines that had an intellectual program, the magazine "had corresponding emotions; and consequently an energy that nothing has been able to turn aside ... except itself." The magazine was to have been a forum for modern day artists who might equal or succeed the artists of the past. The experience was otherwise. "I do not believe," Jane wrote , "that the conditions of our life can produce men who can give us masterpieces. Masterpieces are not made from chaos. If there is confusion of life there will be confusion of art. This is in no way a criticism of the men who are working in the arts. They can only express what is here to express." The magazine had published twenty-three new systems of art representing nineteen countries and none had survived. The only work they had published which approached being a masterpiece was James Joyce's Ulysses.

But it is too personal, too tortured, too special a document to be a masterpiece in the true sense of the word. It is an intense and elaborate expression of Mr. Joyce's dislike of this time. Self-expression is not enough; experiment is not enough; the recording of special moments or cases is not enough. All of the arts have broken faith or lost connection with their origin and function. They have ceased to be concerned with the legitimate and permanent material of art. [And as such] The actual situation of art today is not a very important or adult concern (Art is not the highest aim of man); it is interesting only as a pronounced symptom of an ailing and aimless society.

And so the dream was sacrificed. Jane had understood what Gurdjieff taught, proving her understanding in the fire of acting upon it. She had loved the Little Review - it had given her an identity, power and fame. And she had the courage to kill her own dream in order to begin to live the teaching. It was a tremendous act and it would open the doors for her to take her place as a teacher of the Fourth way.

(From: Ladies of the Rope by William P. Patterson )


Several periodicals have gone by the name the Little Review, though "making no compromise with the public taste" was the slogan of the groundbreaking avant-garde journal founded in Chicago in 1914 by Margaret Anderson, with the aim of promoting the Arts. The last issue was distributed in 1929.

margaret anderson  jane heap